Anger-Control Training for Abusive Parents
Earlier, when a social-learning conceptualization of child abuse was first described, we noted that parent anger is often an immediate antecedent to a child-abusive act. With the unusual exception of parents who calmly, intentionally seek to injure their children, or those who exhibit violent behavior so frequently that it becomes an acceptable and unemotional response, most abusive parents inflict injuries at times when they are angry (Statistical Report on Child Abuse and Neglect in Hawaii, 1975). Impulsive anger has been a personality characteristic widely observed in clinical reports of abusive parents (Green, 1976; Kempe, 1973; Kempe et al., 1962; Steele & Pollock, 1968). More recently, controlled studies have demonstrated that abusive parents exhibit atypical, heightened physiological arousal and self-reported anger when presented with realistic cues of aversive child behavior (Disbrow et al., 1977; Frodi & Lamb, 1980; Wolfe et al.,in press). Taken together, all of these findings suggest that anger arousal accompanies many instances of child abuse and, therefore, that the likelihood of violent behavior in such families should be reduced if the parent develops appropriate means to handle anger more effectively. This is particularly true if the parent’s current highprobability response when angry is physical aggression directed toward the child.
KeywordsChild Abuse Violent Behavior Relaxation Training Anger Control Abusive Parent
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